This is Dr. Alex Hernandez again, from Life Chiropractic and Acupuncture. Today I’m going to answer a very common question: Which is better, an X-ray or an MRI? I’m going to tell you what the differences are, there’s advantages and disadvantages, but they are both really good diagnostic tools.
Let’s start off with the x-ray. Here is an x-ray of a patient that came in, and this is basically the, what we call the frontal view of the neck. We see the person’s head, the teeth, and the spine. And, one of the reasons that we take x-rays is to look at how the spine is out of line. In this case, this gentleman was experiencing a lot of neck pain, and when we took the x-ray, the green line is the normal position and the red line shows how off the spine is. So this is very easy to see what’s truly creating the neck pain.
After some therapy we can then see the red line and the green line are pretty close. So we did a good job here, and this is what allows us to do our job as chiropractors. What we want to do is align the spine, put it back to the center. So with x-rays we get to see alignment, we also get to see if there’s any kind of fracture.
Now, what the x-ray does not show is what’s going on with the discs, we’re not going to see what’s happening with the spinal cord, so that is the advantage of the MRI.
Let’s have a look at the MRI. This is looking at the neck from the side, just like this. And when we look at the MRI, here we can see the discs, here we can see the spinal cord, we can see the brains down the cerebellum, we can really see what’s going on inside. We can see what’s happening with the bones if there’s any kind of contusion. We can see if the discs are herniated, if they’re touching the spinal cord. So this really produces, this gives us a lot more insight as to what is creating your problem.
There is another view, the “bird’s eye view” and it gives us one more dimension on how and what is happening with the spinal cord and the discs.
So the big question here is when do you need what. When do you need an x-ray? When do you need an MRI? If we suspect that you have some kind of disc problem, we will send you out for an MRI. If we suspect something is happening with your spinal cord, we will send you out for an MRI. Now if your problem is a bit simpler, and we think that there’s just misalignments, then an x-ray is appropriate for you, you won’t need an MRI.
For more information, contact my office. We'll be glad to help you out.